Poor Mega Man. He was once Capcom’s flag ship character, long before punching men and zombie shooting came to fame, it was a time that as mentioned before Capcom was bright and creative, having franchises to rival Nintendo. But in the late 90s and 2000s they began to let them die away in favour of their Street Fighters and Resident Evils, of which they later messed up (Res 6 was bad and so is SF5, but at least Res Evil got better with 7 and the remake of 2 being very well received). But things were worse for Mega Man fans. After Mega Man X8 they cancelled the Mega Man X series, ZX had ended on a cliffhanger that will never be resolved, Legends was to have gotten a 3rd installment but for various reasons that too ended up cancelled. Then came the Mega Man comic from Archie, it was great… then it got cancelled too and so we were left waiting. The anniversary came and went with only a fan game released and things went silent. Until the 30th anniversary, when it was announced Mega Man 11. Not a 8bit Mega Man like 9 and 10 had been but this was to be current gen classic Mega Man. Sorry about the history lesson.
As mentioned above, Mega Man 11 is a current gen graphics Mega Man rather than going the 8 bit route of the last two entries. This makes it a side scrolling shooting platformer with 3d graphics. You control Mega Man as you set out to defeat 8 robot masters each who have their own themed levels and when defeated you get a weapon power that is good against one of the other robot masters (you know, like almost all Mega Man games)
The game comes off as one of those great mixes of what made a game franchise good but with modern tweeks that thankfully in this case don’t damage the core gameplay but enhance it. One of the games new gimmicks are the double gear feature. The double gear feature plays into the story as having been something Wily created and tried to get his peers to aid his research but Thomas condemned the notion and had it cancelled, Light eventually realizing this is probably what started the whole mess (Light pushed for his own research instead into increasing Robot AI which after Wily was shot down, Light’s research got funding, and we all know what happened with that, look to Megaman X). This all plays out in the opening which is a nice surprise, for the first time in game probably going back to explore what caused the falling out of Wily and Light. Yes this game has some nice story cutscenes, and if you pay attention to them you spot some nice little pieces like Roll secretly listening in.
The new levels are some what longer than the old Mega Man ones, but on the hand they are less… dickish. With few exceptions I found none of the levels being overly harsh or cheap (except for Torch Man’s fire walls…). A nice design point on how well some of these levels are is the fact that the weapon that’s good against that boss is also VERY useful to use on the level not just the boss. The weapon powers you get this time are also all for the most part very good, but they can also be used with the double gear system. Some people however have felt that the levels can be overly long with some of the harder levels (Torch Man) having frustrating moments before you get to the safety of a checkpoint.
Time to talk about that. The double gear system gives Mega Man 2 abilities, a power boost and a speed boost. Speed boost slows down time for everyone including Mega Man but allows you to do more precise movements. Power boost increases the power of your shots and can enhance your special weapons at the cost of additional ammo (THOUGH THIS IS INCREDIBILY USEFUL) These then slowly fill up a bar that if you fill results in a burn out preventing you from using them for a time, the bar will slowly decrease when not in use but as said use it too long without letting it cool down and you overheat.
The controls here are very smooth and the only problem I found was me getting mixed up with the shoulder buttons either to try and switch weapon quick or putting on the wrong gear boost. This combined with level design makes the game for more fun to play than some of the NES era Mega Mans which required such precise jumping in some areas to result in hair being pulled out.
Another feature is the shop. while playing the game you will collect screws and on the level select area you can go to one of the sides and head to the shop to buy items or power ups. Powerups are VERY useful but most have to be unlocked. Some of the most useful ones are the powerup that increases the likelihood of screws dropping (you can only get this on a Saturday, so very lucky that was the first day I played) and one that upgrades your speed boost so it doesn’t affect you (this is a god send and really helps against the flame walls, use speed boost 50 times to make it available). The shop is optional and really helps for newer gamers, or frustrated gamers.
Mega Man’s music is here too so you can enjoy one of the staples of the series as each robot master has his own track for a level.
Mega Man 11 is a great continuation of the franchise and a ray of hope to Mega Man fans after such a dark time. But this game isn’t just for Mega Man fans, its new features help open it up for new players to experience the blue bomber. Mega Man 11 is available on all major consoles so no one needs left out. Here’s hoping for more Mega Man games in the future, heard if it sold well enough they will do X9.